Anime: Japanese animation cartoons that are not necessarily for children.
This may be my ‘nerdiest’ blog to date, but it bugs me that my friends dismiss my hobby without knowing much about it.
But I have a lot of pent up opinions on anime that I would like to share with you today, and on the whole, I really believe I’m a better person after watching anime (yeah, what?).
A better reflection on society. I think that anime represents people more accurately than other shows I watch (yes Bollywood, I’m pointing at you!). It is more realistic to represent people as absurd, dramatic, pathetic, self-absorbed, good humoured, easily humiliated and contradictory. As a kid I would always wonder why adults would always say things like “You wouldn’t understand it, it’s too complicated” when I would ask questions about certain people’s personalities. But as you grow older, our past twists and shapes our personalities into these really strange shapes – and heck, us twisted people are much closer to the outrageous anime characters than any articulate, composed soap opera actor I’ve ever seen.
Opens your mind. Before I watched anime, I hadn’t taken anything seriously that wasn’t in the English language . After a couple of episodes of Sailor Moon in the original Japanese, I learned that the Anglicized version of the same cartoon largely simplified the dark themes of Sailor Moon – and I began to doubt my English television. I thought, “maybe international shows have some worth to them” which, upon reflection, seems almost racist. But then you add that racism to the stereotype that only pretentious hipsters watch Foreign Films and BAM! Welcome to my pre-anime world.
After finding out the more adult plots in Sailor Moon, I also began to question my favourite childhood cartoons. As many of you may have experienced, when you watch the same cartoons you watched as a kid over again you gain so much respect (or disdain) for the creators of cartoons; cartoons are wittier and more ridiculous when you watch them as an adult, and maybe that is what makes them ultimately more enjoyable.
I watch anime, children’s shows, foreign films, and science fiction, but I don’t consider myself an otaku, hipster, or geek. I am open minded is all.
Strengthens your resolve when you are weak. (This is the Bleach fan in me talking now.) A general theme I see in many animes is the ‘never-give-up’ attitude that is great for children’s cartoons too. We do tell little ones that anything is possible, and I still believe it’s true. But what I love about anime is that you see the hero/heroine knocked down or shaken up, and near defeat (eg. Ichigo before he could control his Visored powers). Anime, however, portrays the real struggle to find the inner strength required to achieve your goals during times of weakness. I definitely relate to having to dig up my inner strength in times of personal weakness, and I think this is an important but neglected lesson in western shows. People do not have unwavering optimism like many typical heros (eg. TJ from Recess) – people do not always believe in their own success 100% of the time, and it is naive to do so. What is really heroic is to have been defeated but to aim for your goal even harder than before.
So there you have it. I have a tragically small number of friends who do not laugh at me when I want to discuss my favourite animes, and I think the stereotype is kind of ridiculous. I am a well-educated, non-Japanese, articulate adult. Does that mean I’m only allowed to watch BBC World News? Now who’s ridiculous? 😉
Anyone with an opinion on the matter is welcomed heartily. In case you couldn’t tell, I don’t get to talk about this topic much 🙂